A Trio of Spooky New Releases and Why I Cannot Write Straight Horror

I mentioned that there would be one more new release announcement for October and here it is. It’s somewhat incomplete, because the links to Barnes & Noble are missing, since the bookseller recently suffered a cyberattack and still hasn’t managed to get their system back online two weeks later.

But first of all, I also wanted to let you know that I have two new articles up at Galactic Journey. The first one is about East and West German comics of the 1950s and 1960s. The second article is about the biggest West German movie of 1965, Winnetou III, which ends with everybody’s favourite heroic Apache chief expiring tragically in the arms of his best friend and blood brother Old Shatterhand.

But now on to the new releases. October is the spooky month, so I have three spooky new e-books to share. None of them are straight horror, because it turns out that I cannot write straight horror. Cause whenever I try to write horror, it either comes out as a parody of horror tropes or a story about trying to figure out what the spooky creature wants and how to deal with it without violence.

I’m not entirely sure why that is, especially since I grew up during the 1970s and 1980s, i.e. the heyday of the horror genre. However, I haven’t been scared by a horror movie since I was about eighteen and watched the original Nightmare on Elm Street on TV, while home alone. And even before that I haven’t been scared by horror movies all that often, if only because horror movies that were actually accessible – on TV and not in the cinema with an 18 certificate or banned altogether – were few and far between. In the three channel TV landscape of West Germany in the 1980s, horror films occasionally showed up on late night TV, but those were mostly older black and white films that relied on atmosphere more than gore. There were also the Dr. Mabuse and Edgar Wallace movies, which – though not straight horror – definitely have horror elements, but also mainly rely on atmosphere.

Meanwhile, the horror movies of the 1970s and 1980s were not at all easy to watch, if you were a teenager in Germany, because Germans are more sensitive to violence than Americans or Italians, whence those movies mostly hailed, and so any horror movie to reach our shores was either cut to ribbons or had an eighteen certificate slapped on it or both. The original Evil Dead was unavailable in Germany until a few years ago, because it was apparently too horrible for us to watch. If you had a VCR and knew someone who could rent 18+ movies, you could watch horror films, but otherwise you were out of luck. There was a moral panic about horror movie inciting teenagers to… well, I’m not entirely sure what horror movies were supposed to do to teenagers, but it was bad. One movie which came in for particular scrutiny was a 1980 Troma movie called Mother’s Day, which archieved near legendary status as a movie everybody had heard of, but almost no one had seen. And those who claimed to have seen it usually hadn’t seen it either, they simply made something up based what they’d heard. The trailer for Mother’s Day is here BTW, if you want to see what the fuss was all about.

As a result, I didn’t get to see most horror movies at the age when they would have scared me. And by the time, I finally got to see the films – once private TV had come to Germany – I was usually underwhelmed because what my mind had conjured up was usually scarier than the reality. Not to mention that a lot of horror movie tropes are rather silly, especially since most of those movies were made for a very different cultural context. People in Germany simply weren’t particularly bothered about teenagers having – gasp – sex, while camping in the woods, and certainly didn’t think this was a crime worth killing people for.

However, I also had issues even with those horror movies – usually more traditional vampire, ghost and monster fare – that I actually was able watch. For quite often, I found myself sympathising with the supernatural creature. One movie I remember infuriating me was House of Dark Shadows, a 1970 spin-off of the US horror soap opera Dark Shadows. In the movie, a young woman gets bitten and turned by Barnabas Collins. She is buried and returns as a vampire, bites someone and then several members of her own family hold her down, while someone stakes her. This scene absolutely infuriated me, because the young woman had been these people’s daughter, girlfriend, sister and yet they murdered her in cold blood. And besides, it wasn’t her fault that she was a vampire and that she was hungry. Surely it would be possible for her to live on blood donations.

Other films elicited similar reactions. “Okay, so the house is haunted, but why not try to coexist with the ghosts? After all, it’s their home, too.” – “Okay, so someone is possessed by a demon, but where exactly is the problem? Why not share the body with the demon and come to an agreement?” That’s also why I immediately took to urban fantasy, when I became popular, because here finally were stories which asked the same questions I had asked myself for years at that point.

As a result, whenever I try to write horror, it usually comes out either as parody or a story where the protagonists try to figure out what the monsters want and how to deal with them without violence. All of the stories I am going to announce today fall into one of those categories. Coincidentally, all of them were July challenge stories, too.

The first new story is of the latter type, where the characters try to figure out what the spooky creatures want. It is a historical fantasy tale set in the Netherlands during the the Eighty-Years-War, during which the Netherlands attempted and eventually succeeded in getting rid of the Spanish occupation. A large part of the issue was that the Netherlands were largely Protestant and found themselves faced with the Spanish Inquisition (which they no more expected than anybody else).

Now my Dad worked in the Netherlands, when I was a teenager, and I usually spent my holidays there and got in contact with the local pop culture. And the Eighty-Years War still looms large in Dutch memory and popular culture just as the Thirty-Years-War a little later looms in the German memory. So I learned about the Eighty-Years War by cultural osmosis from comic books and a book on the history of Rotterdam that someone had given my Dad and that I read when I ran out of reading material.

The actual inspiration for the story was a piece of fantasy art, namely this one by Michael MacRae. It’s an evocative piece that somehow made me think of the Netherlands in the 16th century. The story grew from there.

The problem when writing historical fiction (or historical fantasy) set during less explored periods is how much information the reader needs to tell them when and where the story is set. The first draft contained references to the Lowlands, William of Orange, the Spanish oppressors and people executed for heresy, which seemed completely sufficient to me to let the reader know when and where the story is set. However, the Eighty-Years War is not all that well known to people outside the Netherlands, so I also explicitly mentioned the year and the place where the story is set.

So follow Ann and her little son Florentijn as they confront…

The Ghosts of Doodenbos
The Ghosts of Doodenbos by Cora BuhlertThe Netherlands in the year of the Lord 1571: The young widow Ann lives alone with her little son Florentijn in a house at the edge of the woods.

From childhood on, Ann has been told to never ever go alone into the woods. But when her little son runs away, Ann has no choice. She must venture into the forest to save Florentijn from the creatures that live in the woods surrounding the village of Doodenbos.

This is a historical horror short story of 3000 words or approx. 12 pages.

 

More information.
Length: 3000 words
List price: 0.99 USD, EUR or GBP
Buy it at Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Germany, Amazon France, Amazon Netherlands, Amazon Spain, Amazon Italy, Amazon Canada, Amazon Australia, Amazon Brazil, Amazon Japan, Amazon India, Amazon Mexico, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Apple iBooks, Google Play, Scribd, Smashwords, Thalia, Weltbild, Hugendubel, Buecher.de, DriveThruFiction, Casa del Libro, Vivlio, 24symbols and XinXii.

While going through my backlog of unpublished stories, most of them July short story challenge stories, I realised that I had written no less than four stories featuring demon summoning rituals gone terribly wrong and thought, “Well, that’s enough for a collection then.” And this is how Demon Summoning for Beginners was born.

During the July short story challenge, I often use fantasy art as writing prompts and so two of the stories were inspired by pieces of fantasy art, namely this one by Nele Diehl and this one by David Velasquez.

Another story was inspired by watching an episode of Supernatural and getting annoyed at the badly mangled Latin used during a magical ritual. So I thought, “Well, if I’m annoyed, how annoyed will a demon be. And how will mangled Latin or mangled Hebrew affect a ritual?” The story grew from there.

The final story was inspired by noticing that the instruction for magical potions and spells and recipes for food often look remarkably similar, only that there are stranger ingredients in the former. So I thought, “What if a recipe accidentally conjures up a demon?”

These stories all fall into the parody category. Though the characters also try to figure out how to deal with a demon that none of them actually expected to show up.

So get ready for a lesson in…

Demon Summoning for Beginners
Demon Summoning for Beginners by Cora BuhlertWhen observing a magical ritual in the woods, make sure to take precautions…

If you try to summon a demon to grant you your heart’s fondest desire, you’d better get your Latin right…

When studying ancient grimoires, it’s never a good idea to actually read the contents out loud or you might just cause the end of the world…

Following your grandma’s heirloom recipe might just conjure up something other than marinara sauce…

Four short humorous horror tales of rituals gone very wrong by Hugo finalist Cora Buhlert of 5800 words or approx. 20 print pages altogether.

More information.
Length: 5800 words
List price: 0.99 USD, EUR or GBP
Buy it at Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Germany, Amazon France, Amazon Netherlands, Amazon Spain, Amazon Italy, Amazon Canada, Amazon Australia, Amazon Brazil, Amazon Japan, Amazon India, Amazon Mexico, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Apple iBooks, Google Play, Scribd, Smashwords, Thalia, Weltbild, Hugendubel, Buecher.de, DriveThruFiction, Casa del Libro, Vivlio, 24symbols and XinXii.

The final new release for this month is a collection of two short vampire stories. Both of them fall under the banner of “How can you deal with a vampire without staking them?”

Both stories were July challenge stories, but one of the stories was actually written on the day of the 2020 Hugo ceremony and indeed I wrote part of the story during the neverending Hugo ceremony from hell.

The story in question, “The House at Green Corner”, is also inspired by a real house with an overgrown garden in my neighbourhood, which  looks exactly as it is described in the story.

In summer, I like taking walks in the early morning just before the sun comes up to avoid the heat of the day. And during one of those walks I noticed that there were a lot of bats fluttering around the house and its garden. Like the protagonist, I assumed that the bats probably lived in the overgrown garden. And then I thought, “Maybe the bats don’t just live in the garden, maybe they are the owners of the house and they’re all vampires.” The story grew from there.

So get ready to meet some vampires and make sure to avoid the…

Puncture Wounds
Puncture Wounds by Cora BuhlertEvery morning, Brett finds blood on his sheets and mysterious puncture wounds on his body. But as he tries to trap the “night pricker”, as he calls his unseen assailant, he’s in for a surprise…

The house at Green Corner has been standing there for fifty years now, surrounded by a tall fence and even taller hedges. And at dawn, bats flutter around the overgrown garden. No one has ever seen the owner of the house, let alone spoken to them. But early one morning, paper girl Maddie decides to venture beyond the tall hedges on a dare and finds something very unexpected…

Two modern vampire tales by Hugo finalist Cora Buhlert of 5000 words or approx. 18 print pages altogether.

More information.
Length: 5000 words
List price: 0.99 USD, EUR or GBP
Buy it at Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Germany, Amazon France, Amazon Netherlands, Amazon Spain, Amazon Italy, Amazon Canada, Amazon Australia, Amazon Brazil, Amazon Japan, Amazon India, Amazon Mexico, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Apple iBooks, Google Play, Scribd, Smashwords, Thalia, Weltbild, Hugendubel, Buecher.de, DriveThruFiction, Casa del Libro, Vivlio, 24symbols and XinXii.

If you want to read all of my attempts at horror fiction, the cheapest way to do so is via The Spooky Bundle, which is available exclusively at DriveThruFiction.

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